Our winner is Amanda Taylor from Rochester, Minnesota, for this photo of Emmett, a stray. "Emmett was one of four foster kittens my husband and I took in," Amanda writes. "They needed a temporary home to get healthy before they could be spayed/neutered and available for adoption through a fantastic local animal program we volunteer for, Camp Companion. He is actually still available for adoption; two of his siblings have been adopted already. "Emmett is just about the sweetest, most adorable kitten I've ever known. From the start, he has been a 'lap kitty' and loves to snuggle. He was quite ill when he was first found and thus did not have a voice. He would open his mouth so wide to 'talk' and nothing would come out. But he is a very happy and healthy little boy now. This little munchkin holds such a special place in my heart--his wonderful personality is so immediately evident, and no one can resist scooping him up in their arms for a cuddle. He will make someone the most wonderful companion--he is a real gem!"
Leo and Daisy, Maine coons from Shelter Island, New York. "Even at just 8 weeks old, Leo and Daisy (yawning) were inseparable," writes omiopa. "They are now each about 20 pounds. Born on Christmas Day, they were the best present! Leo is so smart; even the vet says that Leo thinks he is a dog. His favorite trick and pastime: catching his treats in mid-air when we throw them to him. Snuggling with us and each other is commonplace; they're always craving love and affection from anyone who passes them by."
Paloma, a tabby from Cincinnati. "This is Paloma at about 4 months," writes mollymasset. "A co-worker found her wandering around the parking lot of a local Starbucks and rescued her. I immediately knew she was meant for me. She is my little purring machine."
Gatsby, a domestic from Piscataway, New Jersey. "Gatsby was only 3 weeks old when he was left behind by his mother in a ditch near my building," writes crystallinity. "After a couple weeks of bottle feeding, he is now a weaned, healthy, playful, 7-week-old kitten! This photograph was taken when he was about 4 weeks old. My husband and I are so happy to have him in our home!"
Edward Deggleston, a cat from San Francisco. "This little kitten (now responds to Cat) was found in a junkyard near Pirate's Cove in San Francisco," writes posinina. "He could barely walk and was without a mother, so I took him to my home of five friends, and we've been caring for him ever since. This was his first experience with pillows and blankets; he was happy and comfortable, to say the least."
Bruce, Jack, Ort, Boo, Tara, Runt, and Loudmouth, purebred American shorthairs from Ames, Iowa. "All my kittens were partially raised by 'Uncle' Baker," writes cameobaker. "As soon as mom was done with her babies, Baker would take over, cleaning them, keeping them in line, and letting them 'nurse' off him. As you can see, the love between them was completely mutual. I don't have kittens any more, and I lost Baker two years ago, so this is a very special picture to me."
Cricket, a barn kitty from Athens, Georgia. "I adopted Cricket one day while waitressing at a local restaurant," writes stripeycat. "Someone had a box of kittens on the patio, and I managed to snag the last little one after a busy brunch shift. She turned out to be the runt (she's still really tiny), but she's very smart and very sweet. I named her Cricket because she bounces around like one; we soon discovered that crickets are the only bug she eats! Here she is, all tucked-up into a little ball, on the day I brought her home."
Baby Bruno, a mixed breed from Window Rock, Arizona. "My mother and I took in a litter of kittens from a stray that lived in a vacant house nearby," writes desiree1. "Both my mom and Bruno's mom are gone now. My mother was hinting for grandkids when she wrapped him. He fell right to sleep after that."
Oliver, a domestic tabby from Chicago. "This photo was taken the day I picked up Oliver from his foster mom, who rescued him from the alley behind her house," writes manneck. "My friend Shad was singing 'Movin' on up, to the East Side' when Oli reached out to him. He is a sweetie, now 2 years old."
Bean, a domestic medium hair from San Rafael, California. "Bean found my yarn stash, grabbed the nearest ball, and commenced 'celebrating' by batting and chasing it all over the family room," writes Elkaarda. "Once he (and all furniture in the vicinity) were wrapped in white, sparkly yarn, he lay down and took a nap. Then I snapped his photo."
Patriot and Soixante-cinq, mixed breeds from Phoenix, Arizona. "Patriot (born on the Fourth of July) and little sister, Soixante-cinq," writes mcneil138. "Their mother was abandoned when her owners moved. She chose our house to have two litters of kittens. The mother died when the youngest kittens were 3 weeks old, so everyone pitched in to take care of the kittens, including Soixante-cinq's older brother, Patriot (black cat).
Chloe, a blue tabby Persian from Bellevue, Washington. "This is Baby Chloe, whose disposition is as sweet now as an adult as it was in this photo when she was a kitten," writes catmandoo2. "She loves all people, even those she has just met, and therefore everyone falls instantly in love with her also. However, she has one distinguishing feature that no one expects when they first meet her: When she meows, she sounds exactly like a screech owl!"
Tazz, a Maine coon mix from Northwood, New Hampshire. "This little boy was the perfect little shelter cat," writes ColleenBerri. We adopted him when he was a little kitten and knew he was perfect instantly. He always loved sleeping in the napkin basket; this picture was taken when he could still fit inside. We love our little devil. R.I.P."